Yes, wheat flour is a high FODMAP ingredient but that doesn’t mean you can’t have bread on the low FODMAP diet. Keep reading to learn about certified low FODMAP options and general tips to help you choose a low FODMAP bread.
There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of bread products available worldwide. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also very individual. So, personalization is important when it comes to the low FODMAP diet.
It is challenging for anyone to provide recommendations that are going to work for every single one of us with IBS.
I invite you to connect with a GI or FODMAP-trained dietitian in your city, your state, or at the very least, your country. They are going to know more about the low FODMAP options available to you in your area and can help provide recommendations based on your unique experience with IBS.
Choose a certified low FODMAP bread
The easiest way to choose a low-FODMAP bread is to pick a product that has been laboratory-tested and certified low FODMAP by either Monash University or the FODMAP Friendly Food Program. Laboratory testing is the most accurate way to determine if a food is low FODMAP.
Certified low FODMAP products in the US
Schar Gluten Free
Schar offers widely available certified low FODMAP bread options in the United States. You can find Schar in many US grocery stores, usually in the “natural,” “health,” or gluten-free foods section, as well as online.
Although many Schar products have been tested and certified low FODMAP by Monash University, not every Schar product is low FODMAP. Here is a list including some of Schar’s certified options available in the United States.
- Deli-Style Seeded Bread
- Deli-Style Sourdough Bread
- Hamburger Buns
- Ciabatta Rolls
- Multigrain Ciabatta Rolls
- Hot Dog Rolls
Note on apple ingredients: Some of Schar’s certified low FODMAP products contain apple ingredients. Apple is high in FODMAPs and generally avoided on the low FODMAP diet. However, for certified products, we can assume the apple ingredients are either not a FODMAP concern or are included in amounts that should be tolerated by most of us with IBS.
*Schar is a global company and certified low FODMAP products vary by country. Please refer to the Monash FODMAP app for a complete list of tested and certified low FODMAP products from Schar.
Other certified products available in the US
Try a general low FODMAP serving
Access to certified low FODMAP products is not always feasible. Instead of completely eliminating bread (and missing out on beneficial fiber, vitamins, and minerals), consider using the available low FODMAP data to help guide your choices.
Listen to your body and do what’s best for you. But also know that some people benefit from simple changes like reducing portion sizes of their favorite bread, or switching to a sourdough option.
Monash University has tested a variety of general bread categories. Below are US-specific low FODMAP serving sizes:
- White wheat bread: 1 slice or 35 grams
- White wheat sourdough: 2 slices or 109 grams
- Whole wheat sourdough: 2 slices or 97 grams
- Gluten-free white bread: 2 slices or 62 grams
- Gluten-free multigrain bread: 1 slice or 32 grams
Ingredients, manufacturing processes, and low FODMAP serving sizes can vary between countries. So, if you live in a different country, please check the Monash FODMAP app for more options.
Wheat products can be low FODMAP
Although wheat is higher in FODMAPs, it does not need to be avoided completely on the low FODMAP diet (unless required for another medical condition).1(https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/avoiding-wheat-how-strict-on-low-fodmap_10/)
Wheat bread, wheat pasta, soy sauce, and wonton wrappers are several wheat-containing products that have been laboratory-tested and have low FODMAP serving sizes suitable for the low FODMAP diet.
Sourdough may be better tolerated
Humans lack the enzyme required to break down fructans, the FODMAP group found in wheat.2(Wang, X. J., Camilleri, M., Vanner, S., & Tuck, C. (2019). Review article: biological mechanisms for symptom causation by individual FODMAP subgroups – the case for a more personalised approach to dietary restriction. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 50(5), 517–529. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.15419) The process used to make traditional sourdough bread helps to break down fructans.3(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) As a result, sourdough may be better tolerated than regular wheat bread for some of us with IBS.
In general, two slices of wheat sourdough bread are considered low FODMAP by Monash University. However, sourdough products can vary in how they are made. Differences in sourdough production can impact FODMAP content and, as a result, may affect tolerance.4(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096)
Research supports choosing a traditional sourdough bread that has been made using a slow leavening process.5(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) Ideally, this means that the dough has been allowed to prove for 12 hours. In general, longer proving allows more time for the breakdown of fructans.6(Loponen, J., & Gänzle, M. G. (2018). Use of sourdough in low FODMAP baking. Foods, 7(7), 1–12. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods7070096) 7(Ziegler, J. U., Steiner, D., Longin, C. F. H., Würschum, T., Schweiggert, R. M., & Carle, R. (2016). Wheat and the irritable bowel syndrome – FODMAP levels of modern and ancient species and their retention during bread making. Journal of Functional Foods, 25, 257–266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2016.05.019)
Packaging usually doesn’t indicate how sourdough bread is made. So, I recommend chatting with your local baker or calling the company to ask if their product is made using a slow leavening process. I’ve had the most luck finding traditionally-made sourdough at small local bakeries.
Take a look at ingredients
As you get more comfortable with the low FODMAP diet, you may want to dive deeper into the ingredients. Here are some of the higher FODMAP ingredients found in US bread products that you may want to avoid:
- apple juice concentrate
- chicory root extract
- high fructose corn syrup
- pear juice concentrate
This list is not exhaustive. There are also ingredients, like pea fiber, that we don’t have FODMAP data for, and therefore, can’t predict general tolerance. For products containing untested ingredients, consider testing-to-tolerance when your symptoms are well-managed.
Do the best you can
The low FODMAP diet only needs to be as restrictive as your symptoms require. It is not commonly talked about online, but in practice, FODMAP-trained dietitians emphasize the personalization of the low FODMAP diet.8(Wang, X. J., Camilleri, M., Vanner, S., & Tuck, C. (2019). Review article: biological mechanisms for symptom causation by individual FODMAP subgroups – the case for a more personalised approach to dietary restriction. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 50(5), 517–529. https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.15419) 9(Halmos, E. P., & Gibson, P. R. (2019). Controversies and reality of the FODMAP diet for patients with irritable bowel syndrome. In Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia) (Vol. 34, Issue 7, pp. 1134–1142). Blackwell Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.14650) 10(Chey, W. D. (2019). Elimination Diets for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Approaching the End of the Beginning. In American Journal of Gastroenterology (Vol. 114, Issue 2, pp. 201–203). Wolters Kluwer Health. https://doi.org/10.14309/ajg.0000000000000099) Some people with IBS benefit from reducing overall FODMAP intake without stressing too much about minute ingredients.
If you don’t have a trained dietitian to lean onto, consider choosing a certified low FODMAP bread option.
If certified options are not available, consider starting with the bread products you typically eat. Making small changes like reducing portion sizes or switching from regular wheat bread to a sourdough option may be enough to help you see improvements in symptoms.20